|(Nov. 4, 2016, 11:55 a.m.) -- The grassroots group Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP) that tried to persuade the City Council to reject or at least modify its approval of a dense residential development on the former Will J. Reid Scout Camp site, and ultimately hired a law firm to pursue its challenge the Council action, has reached a settlement with the developer that includes substantive changes to the development.
In a release today (Nov. 4), CARP says that after a "year-long legal battle and negotiations with Riverwalk developers, (Integral Communities I, Inc and The Long Beach Project Owner, LLC, DEM Investment Company), Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP), has been successful in winning significant concessions in the development of Riverwalk, thus settling their legal action."
The release states that under the settlement, the developer will reduce Riverwalk's square footage by 20%, eliminate proposed third stories and increase parking spaces by over 20%. CARP says the settlement addresses "overwhelming density and parking concerns." CARP's release also notes that the developers will replace some mature trees that were removed and make extensive street improvements on 48th Street.
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The release indicates that an unspecified monetary award "was agreed upon to cover CARP's legal expenses and to mitigate additional Riverwalk project impacts, notably to provide extra signage and trees along trails by the Dominguez Gap." CARP was represented by attorneys Jamie Hall and Julian Quattlebaum of Channel Law firm.
The site (4747 Daisy Ave.) is bordered on the south by the Union Pacific rail line, to the north and east by a residential neighborhood and on the west by the L.A. River.
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, in November 2015 the Council voted (on a motion by 8th dist. Councilman Al Austin) to let the owner/developer of the city-staff recommended project build 131 single-family homes in a gated development on the former park-like but privately owned Scout camp. The owner/developers (who purchased the land from the LB Boy Scouts) said the residential development would improve the neighborhood, increase property values and provide amenities for the development's residents...and (under a development agreement with City Hall) agreed to build at the developer's expense a new park on Del Amo Blvd. for general public use.
Public testimony at the Nov. 2015 Council meeting was sharply split, with opponents submitting over 200 petition signatures to the Council from the adjoining neighborhood amplified by opposition from veteran community advocates from neighborhoods beyond. Opponents noted that the property is immediately adjacent to sensitive habitat, water reclamation, and serves as a recreational area with bike and pedestrian paths and an historic equestrian trail along the Los Angeles River at the Dominguez Gap. Residents also itemized grounds for doubting the methodology and figures used in the EIR that opponents said had downplayed the project's true impacts.
CARP's legal action alleged that the Council-approved Environmental Impact Report failed to adequately consider the impacts of changing the property's zoning to allow 131 two and three story residences (2,100 to 2,900 sq. ft. townhouses) on 10.5 acres, which is higher than traditional residential neighborhood protective zoning (abutting the townhouse site), creating traffic and parking impacts along with a Council-approved PUD (Planned Unit Development) zoning plan that could have future development implications (subject to future Council approval) at other large sites.
CARP's lawsuit hit choppy water when the developer's lawyers, joined by the City Attorney's office, responded that CARP had filed its legal challenge too late under the CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CARP responded that it had relied on information (as to when the City had filed a time-triggering document) provided to CARP's members by a City Hall Planning Department staffer and an attorney in the City Attorney's office. In that battle, a trial judge wasn't persuaded by the group's reliance on information provided by the City employees and strictly applied CEQA's statutory filing-time limit in ruling for the developer. CARP then filed a notice of appeal and settlement negotiations followed.
CARP indicates on its website www.carplb.org that it was formed by concerned citizens who "came together in response to significant planning and zoning decisions by the City Council that will undoubtedly impact the quality of life and environment for residents throughout the city. CARP is determined to defend our communities, our environment, and our rights as citizens. CARP demands responsible city planning: including transparent processes which are fair, responsive, conform to enacted laws, and respect and avoid threatening the quality of life in our communities."
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